Urban fantasy

How Beauty Met the Beast (by Jax Garren): a review!

How Beauty Met the Beast (Tales of the Underlight, #1)How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

I’m very happy with this book. Well, not the supernatural parts of it because they almost bordered on the silly, but the rest – the parts where Hauk and Jolie carefully stepped around each other and unexpectedly found a rapport growing between them.

Hauk is a wanted man who has joined an underground group fighting against the corporates who run the world. This world is very reminiscent of ours, only with even more power allotted to the rich and a cult secretly running the world. It’s basically a world where all the conspiracy theorists are right and we’re blind to the subtle manipulations by the rich and powerful, and where governments are puppets in the hands of industrialists and media moguls.

So Hauk is on the run after completion of a particularly important mission and takes refuge with an associate who runs a burlesque club by night and is a desk-jockey by day. He sees Jolie there and is sadly smitten.

Jolie is an heiress and a rebel. She gave up ballet to please her proper parents and now after the death of her beloved grandfather she’s finally doing something she loves and finds exciting (albeit secretly).

After her performance, she ends up having an encounter with Hauk but never really sees him. When she asks his name, he tells her his first name, Wesley and leaves. She remembers his wide shoulders and gentle hands and imagines a handsome stranger.

But Hauk isn’t handsome. He has the kind of face that earns make-up artists their living on horror movie sets. He isn’t just scarred, he’s disfigured.

Soon afterwards Jolie gets kidnapped and Hauk *senses* someone getting attacked and runs back to the rescue. He sees the attackers trying to violate Julie and enters a berserker rage that ends in a lot of blood and a total blackout for Hauk.

The next thing he knows, he’s waking up to Jolie in his bedroom in the secret warrens of the Underlight having carried her there to safety and then refusing to let her go even in sleep. Fortunately his friends were there to ease Jolie’s panic at gaining consciousness in the arms of a blood smeared stranger.

When Jolie asks her rescuer’s name they tell him it’s “Hauk” and after a single glance at his face she’s glad that her first instinct was wrong, he couldn’t possibly be Wesley.

You can’t help but be pleased with the slow development of their relationship. It takes Jolie a while to get used to his horrific face but she’s a sensible heroine and doesn’t want to hurt his feelings the way she quickly realizes it must often have been trampled on by others.

She also chastises herself for immediately associating his disfigurement with evil. A monstrous man, a demon-man.

As the day passes and they talk and work together, they get to know each other, they surprise each other and then suddenly Jolie realises that hours have passed since she’d last noticed the glaring scars and pits on his face and body. She sees his beautiful eyes instead, his unexpected sense of humour and his gentleness.

So yeah, I kinda loved the way this story plays out (and will continue to play out for two more books), but the unfortunate side of this book is that it’s set in an urban fantasy world and the author seems to be severely uncomfortable with magical set ups or cults.

Also, these two keep talking during a break in! A break-in into the damned cult’s head quarter – and by that I mean the cult that runs North America! Who talks this much and this easily while sneaking into a high security building? Seriously.

And did I say the cult scenes were silly? Okay, so there. Loved the character development, loved the relationship building (though the girl needs to ditch her “I don’t believe in monogamy” boyfriend fast, or I might start throwing books at her), and loved that it’ll take Beast/Hauk a while yet to get Beauty/Jolie, but yeah…I wish magic hadn’t been involved.

Amazon link: How Beauty Met the Beast (Tales of the Underlight)

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vampire house #3

Two tall, robe clad figures stood beside the examination table where the dead girl lay.

One was a man with disproportionately broad shoulders and a narrow chin, and the other was an elegant woman with a pleasant face and long fingers that always hovered close to her darkly painted lips.

Edison paused at the doorway to listen to them.

“…findings which would make this improbable to say the least,” muttered the man, his brows furrowed. (more…)

vampire house #2

Edison waited impatiently as the minute hand of the wall clock declared only half an hour had passed since he made the call. He weighed his options in his mind and tried to come up with a back up plan that didn’t depend so heavily on Jeremy Hayde’s whimsy. He was unpredictable, as Edison knew only too well, and he could refuse to play along.

“Mr Gage,” said one of the technicians, walking up to him with a phone in her hand. “The Director wants to speak to you.” (more…)

vampire house #1

Vampire House

Every monster knows that it is a monster to its prey, and all prey know that they are food for the monsters. There is little room for conscience or hesitation at the moment of the fatal blow.

And yet Emma found herself frozen in a few never ending seconds of doubt and guilt, as her clawed fingers raced down towards the girl’s throat.

Her victim’s eyes widened. Disbelief and fear washed over them.

Emma’s own looked back, wild with indecision and inevitability.

Then the razor sharpness of those inhuman fingers flashed against the soft flesh of the girl’s jugular and Emma’s vision was painted in red.


The phone rang, loud and jarring in the quiet of the plush office. (more…)

NaNoWriMo ended without me

10586 words.

Obviously I do not deserve the appellation “wrimo”.  I was attempting to write a story that I usually wouldn’t be inclined to. A genre molded urban fantasy novel. Very much a by-the-tropes creation.

I had a vampire hero, a newly turned vampire/still somewhat human heroine, werewolves and faeries in important supporting roles and a slightly messy, to-be-further-amended plot in my head. It was to be an exercise in learning the rules, so I could subvert them convincingly. I love the tropes, but occasionally a little friendly mocking does the heart good.

Unfortunately it didn’t pan out as I’d hoped. Or it did…but only till page twenty. And then I got stuck in a revisionist loop.

You know the one, where you detect a deficiency in the plot or something better occurs to you and you change the relevant sentence or paragraph and suddenly you realize that this requires more amendments throughout the story told so far because this new device gives rise to plot inconsistency.

Anyway, it’s a bad phase. I saved all the previous drafts and ended up with more Word Docs than pages in my story. I just couldn’t let go and move on with the story. New ideas, new ways to write the first five chapters kept bombarding me and I somehow lost my grip on the original story. In the end I gave up and went off on a winter beach trip.*

But as sad as it was, I’m an inherently optimistic person and I’m still telling myself that I’ll come back to it and finish it at some point – maybe when the rest of the story takes shape in my mind.

So fellow wrimo ‘dropouts’, don’t feel too bad about that unfinished draft. You did spend some time on it and gave it considerable thought and grayed a few hair agonizing over it. All that was definitely worth the effort of registering and it was good while it lasted. If the urge strikes you to take up the pen or your keyboard before next November, you’ll do it and this time the same story will come out smoother, easier and all the better for the practice you subjected it to in the last month.

Good luck!

*Well, I really went on that trip in december, but I was trying to express my relief in giving up the project for the time being with an actual escape as a metaphor. 

The waiting books in my Kindle

I recently made a semi-serious promise to myself that I will read nothing but non-fiction for the next one month.

Semi-serious only because I didn’t believe I was actually going to do it.

Do you know how addicts crave their drugs till they can think of almost nothing else? Reading popular fiction has become a similar sort of addiction for me.

I can seriously think of nothing else when the craving for one of those books start. My cravings are genre-specific too. Sometimes I need a Regency romance a la G. Heyer; sometimes it’s YA, particularly of the high school romance variety; often I really need to read an action packed Urban Fantasy [think: Dresden Files, Kate Daniels] – (never paranormal romance, thank you, I’ve learnt my lesson – there are no high standards in that world); and then there is the odd craving for the quirky contemporary romances and mysteries; also sometimes I notice a really awesome looking cover – most probably in High Fantasy – and run towards it heedlessly. (more…)

What is Gordon Andrews’ real name?

Hey. I pilfered the following comment from Ilona Andrews’ blog to share with the others of my ilk who are just as bewildered as me about the whole Andrew Gordon/Gordon Andrews thing. The one is the author’s real name and the other is his pen name – so how did he end up choosing ‘Gordon’ for the name we call him by?

Gordon: I know it can be confusing, but here is the deal: My legal or if you prefer, government name, is Andrew Beauregard Gordon. Andrews is my grandmother Helen’s maiden name and my middle name comes from the confederate general PGT Beauregard who fired on Fort Sumter and basically started our Civil War. Ilona calls me Gordon and that is how I think of myself, in the military we always used our last names.

So, I guess that answers that. I really hope these guys don’t sue me for stealing their comments (can they do that?) – or blog-stalking them (which they probably can).

For those who have no idea who this post is about —

author2sm “Ilona Andrews” is actually two people, my husband, Gordon, and I. We write urban fantasy, an odd hybrid of a genre that includes elements of mystery, fantasy, and horror. Our stories are set in a modern setting that has a touch of paranormal to it.

You can visit their website here –> (link) 🙂